I was in so much pain, I felt like my chest would surely cave in upon itself.
I pulled myself into the seat of my car, legs shaking, unable to breathe.
Five minutes before that, I had been walking nonchalantly down the street, feeling fine. I walked past little restaurants with white lights strung over the chatty tables like a blanket of stars. People laughing, drinking wine, spending time with friends.
And that’s when the feeling hit me. Five minutes later I was back in my car. As I breathed deep trying not to hyperventilate, I pinpointed what emotion had come over me so strongly.
I felt so profoundly lonely, I thought I was going to die.
Every internal organ inside of me felt like it was falling into a deep, dark hole.
It was such a strong feeling that it physically incapacitated me while it hit its crescendo.
This was a new level of loneliness I had never felt before. It was physical.
I have never been a person who can’t be alone with herself. I like being with me. A good book. A new TV show. Traveling by myself to some beautiful new country where I don’t know the language.
I’ve never been the woman who needs to hop from one romantic relationship to another. Often years go by in between my relationships and I’m happy. I take myself to movies and dinners alone, and thoroughly enjoy it.
So what was this?
In 2015, after 5 years of my business doubling in revenue every year and after the most profitable year ever up until that point, I hit my first “rock bottom” moment in my business. I took a gamble on a new product that I was trying to make the centerpiece of my business. And it flopped. Hugely. Like to the tune of $100,000 in the red.
The debt didn’t scare me. Debt is a normal part of doing business and I’m not afraid of it. It comes and goes. I have been doing this long enough to know that I know how to raise money. And I did.
The way it affected me is that I felt like a huge failure. Nothing I had done had ever failed THAT spectacularly before. To the point where I thought it might undo the business I had worked so hard to build all those years.
But hitting that rock bottom, my usually strong confidence took a big hit. And when that happened. I suddenly had to look at all the things that were not working for me.
In that same year that my business had that huge failure, I moved back to Florida to be close to my family because my grandmother was getting sick a lot. I have always been close to my grandmother, so I wanted to be near her, in case this was the end. (It wasn’t thankfully).
The problem is, my whole family lives in one neighborhood. So in the year where I had the rug pulled out from under me in my business and hit the lowest point of my career, I also moved back to a place that was rife with old family dynamics and old wounds.
And all of it blew up in my face.
But there’s something about feeling like you’ve lost everything that makes you care less about doing things just to get approval and conditional love.
Being near family, I started looking at how some of those relationships were doing me more harm than good. I started seeing a new therapist and began to realize how much I had gotten used to being treated like a second class citizen in many of those familial dynamics.
I saw how I was so desensitized to that treatment I didn’t even see it or ask for it to stop anymore. How I allowed them to drop me over and over again, even though they received my devotion in return, no matter how awfully they behaved.
Then, I began to see the same pattern reflected in my friendships, business relationships and more.
I saw clearly how in 90% of my friendships, I felt lonely, unfulfilled and unloved. I was giving 100% and most of the time I was getting back 20%.
And I saw how people I was hiring to support my business also put in 20% passion while my passion was fueling the other 80% of the business.
No wonder I felt so tired all the time.
So I started saying “no more,” more than ever before. Let’s be clear, I wasn’t a newbie at boundaries or at asking for what you want. I know you’re not either. We’re badass and there’s no way we could have achieved what we have without being clear about our boundaries. But every time we up level, there are new nuances and blockages to be discovered and explored, that we never saw before. That’s leadership.
People started dropping away from me like dead flies.
Even though I knew it was good for me to go low contact with those family members and that it was not an option to have half-assed friends who didn’t actually root for me, there were those moments where I doubted.
Sometimes I thought I must be the crazy, difficult one because I was losing so many people.
Was it better to have “only “20% in” kind of friends than no friends at all?
But I knew that in order for me to have the impact on the world that I felt called to make, I could not keep accepting crumbs when what I deserved was the whole cake. In order for me to live out my highest vision, I needed to be well fed by profound love and support from the people in my sphere.
As busy and successful business owners, we put so much of our heart and energy into what we do. The friendships, business relationships and team members that we give our precious time and energy to should only be those that are going to fuel us. Period.
We, the legacy makers, need relationships that truly support and bolster our soul-driven missions.
For a while there, after I set those boundaries and all those people dropped off, it was lonely. There were times when no one was responding to the offer I made, the right clients seemed non-existent, the dream team members seemed far away. Sometimes there was no friend or family member to go out for dinner with or call with good news.
There is always a moment of limbo right in between releasing what is too small for us and waiting for the good stuff to come. It can feel as if we will die alone and we will never find our soul family.
That is when you have to stay strong.
Do not dare go back to the places that do not support where you are wanting to go.
Do not dare make concessions for your dreams.
Do not dare be “okay” with someone giving you 10% when you’re giving them 90%.
Do not dare do that to yourself or to your great mission in the world.
I see this happen to my clients all the time.
They finally decide, through our work together, to set their price point at $25,000.
They turn down anyone who tries to strike a bargain or pay them less.
And there is always this small dead period before the 25k clients start rolling in.
In that period, the likelihood of freak out is high.
Your ego is going to think you fucked it all up and you will now die alone.
You wonder if you should just go back to the old price point or policy because there are people who could be okay with that. Your ego will do what it can to make you go back.
Don’t. Don’t you dare.
After, I released all of those friendships and relationships that were not aligned… And after my own dead period where I weathered intense loneliness…
I started strengthening some of the friendships I already had with people who had always been good to me, but who I’d been too busy to give my full attention to because the other half-ass relationships had been taking up so much of my time.
Now it is three years later and in the last two weeks, I have been bombarded with text messages from all of those good people, telling me how much they love me and believe in me. Many of us are passionately dedicated to our mission and having huge career wins. We send each other love notes celebrating each other constantly.
I feel the pure, undying support in my body. It is strong, nourishing, and unwavering.
I have no friends or people in my sphere who are just trying to keep me close because I’m “their competition.” Or who just want to be friends for networking purposes. Who go and flirt with men I just told them I liked. Who disappear for weeks without responding to a text, when I have always been around for them. Who judge me when I’m vulnerable. Or who book a “colleague mastermind” call with me only to steal my ideas and present them as their own.
If anyone comes into my sphere like that either I don’t engage with them or they quit. The vibration of the standards I am holding for myself as a leader instantly detoxes them out of my sphere. It’s why I work with my clients so much on their energetic vibration as a leader, too.
I continue to show up for what I want and ask for it every time I uplevel. And I’m willing to let people go if they don’t want to come along with me. This is the work of legacy leaders.
My new soul family is emerging as a result of that. They see my vision, and they are holding me to it. There is no competitiveness, catty behavior, or drama to distract me from my mission. They are behind me and I behind them.
That is love.
Imagine how much more badassery you can accomplish when the BS is gone, and you’ve got pure support and love blowing behind your back.
I’ve seen the results in other areas of my life, too.
After consciously choosing to be very picky about who I date and choosing to be single for the last three years, in the last few weeks I have spent some time with several amazing men who were lovely and left me smiling. Who knows how that will develop. But the point is, I’m not here to waste precious legacy-making time on bad Tinder dates. I’m not here for a fling made of crumbs. I’m here for the epic love affair that is the whole damn gooey chocolate ganache cake. And if I’m single for a few years while I wait for that, that’s fine with me. Anything else is a waste of my time. Standards.
When it comes to my team, I hire fast and fire fast. I don’t waste time bemoaning when someone quits or can’t hack it. Simply, if you don’t have what it takes to change the world with us, or you are not committed to our level of excellence, it’s best you go elsewhere. I wish you well. But nothing and no one is going to slow us down. Nothing.
My brilliant, high performing, empathic Sister, you have big work to do.
Your gift to the world is your whole heart and soul.
You deserve the same back.
Because that is your fuel as you push into levels of impact and legacy that few will ever reach. You can’t optimize your drive with cheap fuel or ¼ of a tank left.
You know your vision is not easy.
It’s hard work and dedication in a sea of people who don’t understand excellence.
Get the premium grade fuel you need, and refuse anything less than that.
Those high quality relationships are what keep you going when under the pressure of your next uplevel into greatness.
If you’ve recently decided to ask for more as you move up into your next level of legacy in your work and you’re in that limbo period, fear not.
Your goodness is coming to you. You are always rewarded when you take a strong stand for what you desire and you face it, unflappable.
And trust me, from a woman who after years of holding out for the best is starting to get it all now…
It is worth it to stand tall by your standards and hold out for what you really want.
Because when what you want comes, it is so good that you will be glad you held your ground and didn’t compromise. When you’re standing in front of your crowd of thousands of people whose lives you’ve changed, or you’re accepting that Oscar, or staring into Oprah’s cameras, you will be grateful that you loved yourself and your mission big enough to hold out for the true prize.
And don’t you dare accept anything less.